New York magazine has an interesting article in which sixty-one literary critics discuss their favorite underrated contemporary novels (and several short story collections and memoirs). There are some authors on the exalted list who do seem to have garnered their share of attention (John Lanchester, Carol Shields, Norman Rush, Martin Amis, for examples); after all, winning the Pulitzer Prize guarantees a bit of press and book sales, but I suppose when compared to being anointed by Oprah it is small potatoes. I can heartily agree with Ron Rosenbaum's choice of John Lanchester's "The Debt to Pleasure" as a wondrously wicked novel, and I am putting several other contenders on my Christmas wish list: Russell Banks' "The Darling"; David Fulmer's jazz mystery "Rampart Street"; and "The Extra Man" by Jonathan Ames. Hopefully some of my loved ones are reading this blog.
The Book Trout swam about Old Saratoga Books and rounded up eight of the Best Novels You've Never Read as noted in the New York article and we offer them for your consideration below. You can click on the photos of each book if you are interested in purchasing a copy from our secure website.
- Nunn, Kem, Tapping the Source, NY The Delacorte Press 1984. "What Hemingway's Nick Adams did for fishing, Kem Nunn does for surfing".
- Harrison, Jim, The Road Home, NY: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1998. The sequel to Harrison's novel "Dalva".
- Sapolsky, Robert M., A Primate's Memoir, NY: Scribner, 2001. A memoir of two decades in Kenya studying baboons.
- Epstein, Leslie, San Remo Drive, NY: Handsel Books, 2003. "It is a large, public book that explores the glamorous life of Hollywood and evokes the landscape of Southern California both as it is now and as it appeared before the migration to it of millions" (from front jacket flap).
- DeWitt, Helen, The Last Samurai, NY: Hyperion, 2001. The author's first novel, nominated in New York Magazine by Sven Birkets for exalted literary status "for its playful, steady, angst-attuned intelligence and its utter conceptual exceptionality".
- Rush, Norman, Mortals, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003. A doorstop of a novel set in Botswana.
- Hellenga, Robert R. The Fall of a Sparrow, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1998. The author's second novel, in which classics professor "Woody" Woodhull goes to Italy to attend the trial of the terrorists who killed his daughter in a bombing.
- Shields, Carol, Unless, NY: Fourth Estate, 2003. The late author's last novel, shortlisted for theOrange Prize, the Man Booker Prize, The Giller Prize and the Governor General's Award.